James Harden's All-Star tips for NBA visitors

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2013 at 1:48 pm •  Published: February 7, 2013

Harden loves the convenience of living downtown and suggests fans traveling to the game find a hotel in the area. When he has friends and family in town they often stay at the Four Seasons, a five-minute walk from the Toyota Center.

After signing a five-year, $80 million contract extension soon after the trade, one of Harden's favorite activities in Houston is shopping. And there's no better place to do it in the city than the Galleria.

The sprawling mall, located about eight miles from downtown at 5085 Westheimer Rd., spans 2.4 million square feet and is home to about 400 shops and restaurants.

"I can do a lot of shopping, and the Galleria mall has everything you need and every store," he said. "I go there like once a week just to get a couple of new things and stay up on my fashion game. The mall is just amazing."

Known for his long and wild beard, Harden describes his style as eclectic and said he doesn't gravitate to any one store or brand.

"I'm unique and different in my own way," he said. "I just go with the flow."

Visitors who are hip-hop fans will have no shortage of things to do at night during All-Star weekend. Harden, who was last season's Sixth Man of the Year and won an Olympic gold medal with the U.S. team in London, likes that the event brings rappers and athletes together.

"As basketball players we listen to a lot of music before the games and we're fans of the rap game, and rappers are fans of basketball players and they like to come see us play," he said. "In a sense, we want to be them and they want to be like us, so All-Star weekend is a chance for all of us to hang out and mingle with each other."

Dozens of parties and concerts featuring everyone from Lil Wayne to Diddy to Young Jeezy and T.I. are planned for the weekend. The sheer volume of events left Harden unable to suggest a single spot to check out.

"There's going to be so much going on, there's going to be so many headline parties and rappers and NBA players hosting parties and things like that," he said. "No matter what party you show up at it's going to be good and it's going to be packed because a lot of people are coming down."

Though Harden wouldn't reveal where he'll be partying, he did share that he listens to rapper Meek Mill's hit song "Dreams and Nightmares" before every game.

The rapper has a concert planned on Feb. 15 at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel St., less than a mile from the arena. It won't be hard to find Harden if he drops by. The bearded 6-foot-5 baller says he won't just be standing around if you catch him at a party.

"I have rhythm. I wouldn't call myself a dancer, but I go with the flow," he said with a grin. "I'm not just a wallflower. I can move a little bit."



Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau: http://www.visithoustontexas.com/

NBA All-Star Game: http://www.nba.com/allstar2013/